With the UK set to leave the European Union on October 31st, the government has announced that new and used cars travelling to the Republic of Ireland from the UK mainland will need to display a GB sticker as the Republic of Ireland is part of the EU.
The GB plate or sticker is oval is shaped with black lettering on a white background and indicates that a vehicle comes from the UK. The GB stands for Great Britain. You may have seen plates from other countries, such as D for Germany, F for France or PL for Poland.
These plates were introduced in Europe following the 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1968 Vienna Convention on road traffic. They are designed to allow other road users, as well as the authorities, to recognise a foreign vehicle easily and identify its country of origin.
The GB plate can be magnetic or adhesive and should be displayed on the rear of your vehicle. There is a size requirement, although motorcycles can generally get away with a smaller sticker due to space constraints. The motor trade sells a huge variety of GB stickers and plates, or you may receive a free sticker from the holiday company you book with.
Under current regulations, cars with a number plate that includes the EU symbol and the letters GB do not need to display a GB sticker as well. Although technically a legal requirement, the chances of a driver being stopped or a fine imposed for failing to display a GB plate or carrying one that does not conform to the standard are very low. After Brexit, regulations surrounding national borders are likely to be tightened, and it may become more important to display the correct sticker.
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The government announcement has angered many people in Northern Ireland who identify as Irish, not British. Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain which comprises England, Scotland and Wales, but it is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Department for Infrastructure points out that displaying a GB plate has been a requirement in the Republic of Ireland for many years, although to date the rule has not been strictly enforced.
Failing to display a GB sticker within the Republic of Ireland will not invalidate your insurance policy in the event of an incident, and it is possible that the rule will be enforced no more strictly than before, even after Brexit.
However, it is advisable to comply with all regulations when travelling outside the UK in order to make your trip go as smoothly as possible.